Monday, September 27, 2010

The Birds and the Bees: An Infertility Story

If good comedy is rooted in pain, well I guess EMD Serono (division of Merck), makers of Gonal-F and Ovidrel, have nailed it. As part of a guerilla marketing campaign, EMD Serono has launched these five web-videos available on the dedicated website, The site then links to a more educational site, Fertility Lifelines.

We follow along the story of Neil and Karen, a bee and a bird, who are desperately trying to conceive. With a dash of poignant humor, the web-videos touch upon the many emotional issues that infertility stirs in us. From attending baby showers to sex-on-demand to the toll that it takes on a marriage.

Browsing through the various sites to glean some of the reactions, I was happily surprised to find that most people appreciated the positive step that this campaign was taking -- making the IF struggle public, opening the door for dialogue and highlighting the everyday anguish. But, some found the spots offensive and belittling the terrible heartache that is infertility. Some suggested that advertisers would never make fun of ED, for instance.

If I were to put my former-TTC cap on, I am quickly reminded of my hyper-sensitivity and my inability to deal with anything that reminded me of our "failures." Yes, pharmaceutical ads don't usually parody illnesses, so why should infertility turn into a joke? But, if I were to put my former-ad-girl and now hindsight-20/20-girl hats on (Ok, I realize that's two hats, but work with me here), I would say the web-videos are rooted in true insight, and the use of humor makes the stories more accessible -- they stay with you; the little details, the nervous laughs. Furthermore, this campaign has tremendous legs (ad speak for opportunities to do more in other media). Perhaps we will continue to follow Neil and Karen on their journey as they do see an fertility specialist, hence further expanding on the countless ways in which infertility affects a couple's lives. And I actually applaud EMD Serono for allowing themselves to be taken outside the box of traditional pharma advertising (good creatives and account people at that ad agency!).

I want to hear from you. What did you think about the campaign?

P.S. Thank you to my fellow blogger, This is More Personal, for sharing these videos.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Invisible Line of Infertility

For better or for worse, infertility does not discriminate. It knows no creed, gender, age, race, socio-economic status or political affiliation. As I look down the list of this month's (and every month's) ICLW participating bloggers, all I see is a sea of women (I would also include men, but I haven't see any yet) who are suffering quietly in real-life and hoping to find a voice in the virtual one. We support one another, commiserate, laugh, bitch, sometimes shed a few tears and even express genuine joy for much deserved pregnancies. And yet, I occasionally, notice an invisible line that forms, creating almost individual infertile groups in a subconscious race for who will have suffered most and deserved that child most when all is said and done.

You know the lines I'm talking about -- young vs. old(er); first vs. secondary-infertility; those who can conceive but can't maintain pregnancies vs. those who can't conceive without ART; those who are TTC naturally vs. the ones who have done countless ART cycles; those who are doing IUIs vs. those who are doing IVF; even the amount of years it has taken to conceive. Some of these "us vs. them" stances are overt, others are subtle, while many are hidden somewhere in the mess that infertility has left behind when it ravaged our lives.

But like family, as disfunctional as it always is, we are the first ones to come to each other's rescue regardless of our differences and the details of our journeys. I am honored to be sitting at the same table as all of you. Here, on this blog, I welcome each and everyone of you -- happy to help, discuss and listen. I'm sure it goes without saying that at the end of this ordeal, what we really want is to belong to the motherhood club and see each other's familiar faces at that same table, and toast as we acknowledge that we wouldn't have gotten there without this strong community.

Happy ICLW!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Living in Uncertainty: A Deja-Vu

I've been reminded again at how terrible I am with uncertainty. For the last 6 months, we've been on edge, wondering if we are staying in NY or moving to another state. This not only involves moving our whole lives to a new place, but also losing our support system, friends, family, for what may be an amazing opportunity for DH's career and for our finances. Looking back on this period, has made me realize that I have a coping system that I had used while TTC and that even in this completely unrelated scenario, I find myself doing again. It's almost like my 12-steps, although no sponsor is there to get me back on track when I lose my way.

When faced with a big news, I initially experience a moment of shock, which involves a lot of "I can't do this!", followed by some tears of panic. Then, I start absorbing the news and start thinking of how I can pro-actively overcome the situation. Like during my time of TTC, I research. Yes, research is my salvation. It's the only way I know how to cope with things that are out of my control. I feel empowered by knowledge and somehow, this knowledge brings me to a more accepting state -- "Ok, maybe I can do this!" 

During this research process, I feel compelled to share everything with DH. Poor guy, he comes home at the end of a long day and has to listen to me go on and on about this one topic. I guess by sharing all this new info with him, I'm looking for validation that I'm on the right track and even finding out about a new angle that I may not have covered.  

Once I feel that I have scoured the internet and available literature, I sit there and put things on a balance. Pros and cons. I make lists (mostly mental ones) of various scenarios; plan Bs, Cs and Ds. And I draft action-steps that will get me to the finish line... that I can just as quickly shred to pieces to reenter the world of panic. 

Vacillating back and forth, I eventually reach a point of exhaustion, where I become incapable of thinking straight; where I need someone else to make decision for me. And then, I wake up one day, unable to do anything useful -- even writing this blog that I enjoy so much seems like a challenge. Like a prisoner of my own thoughts, I wait for sentencing day (you can equate this part of the last days of the 2 week wait). During that time, I feel like my life is on pause. I imagine myself in the middle of a busy highway, while people/cars are just whizzing by. During my days of TTC, it was people going about their lives, having kids (that I couldn't have) and careers (that I could no longer handle), while I, stuck in one position by some invisible chains, stand there, completely incredulous that despite my best efforts (remember all that amazing research?!) have no control over the situation. 

I thought I had learned my lesson after coping with the uncertainties of infertility for all those years, but turns out I have still much to learn. Life is filled with obstacles that are meant to make you think, act, and reinvent yourself even. 

I realize that the uncertainty I'm living with now is nothing compared to the uncertainties of infertility. In fact, I am sometimes ashamed that I would even make a big deal out of this impending move, but in the spirit of self-acceptance, I have to let myself go through my own coping process, even if I know deep down that in the end, I will get to the other side of this journey, just as you, dear bloggers/readers will get to the other side of yours. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

News: CDC Videos on A.R.T.

Brief news update: The CDC, along with contributions from Aetna, have launched three videos on their site addressing different aspects of A.R.T.

The first video primarily focuses on the importance of being healthy prior to TTC and during pregnancy. Ways to increasing your odds to conceive and sustain a healthy pregnancy. The second video deals with the resources available to patients through the CDC. As I'd explained in an earlier entry, you can obtain SART reports for the IVF clinics in your local area. What this video provides is further understanding on how to read and interpret the data available to you. Lastly, the third video makes the case for single embryo transfers -- dealing with the complications of multiple gestation and the improvement in the technology to be more confident in single embryo transfers.

Despite the relatively poor quality production (Ok, so I'm a bit of a production snob after working in advertising and fashion) and dry delivery, I found the information to be relevant and accessible to those of us who are just getting started on the IF roller coaster. And the fact that the CDC and an insurance company (Aetna) have joined efforts to shed more light on IF treatments gives me hope that we can begin to discuss these issues more openly. Who knows, perhaps our law makers will also be more sympathetic to our struggles and make IF coverage a mandate in all states. One can always hope, right?